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Demand for AZ COVID-19 Rent Assistance Could Outstrip Funding

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Hundreds of thousands of lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic have left many Arizonans unsure how they'll make their next rent or mortgage payment. (Elnur/Adobe Stock)
Hundreds of thousands of lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic have left many Arizonans unsure how they'll make their next rent or mortgage payment. (Elnur/Adobe Stock)
 By Mark Richardson - Producer, Contact
May 11, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic appears to be hitting the most vulnerable Arizonans the hardest. Aside from finding food, many newly unemployed, low-wage workers are concerned about keeping a roof over their heads.

When stay-at-home orders were issued in March, the state allocated $5 million to create the Eviction Prevention Assistance Program to help with rent and mortgage payments. Joan Moreno, interim community services director with the City of Glendale, said she's concerned there may not be enough money to help everyone who needs it.

"Based on what we know today about the volume of applications and the average payment amount on those, we're estimating that that $300,000 that we received from this special state grant will probably allow us to help about 40% of the applicants," Moreno said.

The state has received more than 500,000 applications for unemployment and underemployment assistance since mid-March, and Community Action Agencies have seen some 10,000 applications for the Eviction Prevention Assistance Program.

While the state has temporarily delayed the execution of COVID-19-related evictions, Moreno said people who can't pay now could just be postponing the inevitable. She recommended renters and homeowners keep the lines of communication open with their landlords and mortgage companies.

Rent assistance payments have to be made directly to the property owner or the landlord, which requires them to be cooperative," she said. "So, if we have residents that are in a situation where their landlord doesn't want to take the payment from us and they want to pursue an eviction, they can do that."

Moreno said she expects state and federal officials to provide more funding for such programs in the future. But if people are losing a home, she said other community programs might help them get back on their feet.

"Our goal is always number one, first and foremost, to try to keep people in their homes," she said. "If they find themselves in a situation where they cannot stay where they currently are, then we want to try to help them."

Moreno said Glendale and most other cities and counties have always had programs to assist people who fall on hard times with rent, utilities and other expenses. To apply for Eviction Prevention Assistance, visit housing.az.gov or call the 211 Arizona Helpline.

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